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Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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"Haunter - Rivers & Rust"

When I first heard Haunter’s long awaited debut album Rivers & Rust, I drank a case of beer and used a sewing needle to tattoo a rowboat onto my roommate’s arm. Although I don’t recommend this to every first-time listener, it seemed we were doing the album justice. It was the ideal soundtrack for a summer ripe with late nights, good times and bad ideas. The album invokes feelings of a prairie highway, a car filled with friends, the sun on your face, nothing in your head, no clear destinations in mind, but unlimited possibilities.

Those who have seen Haunter live throughout the last five years will be familiar with many of the songs. The album features the bulk of their catalogue. Be prepared, though; Rivers & Rust showcases a Haunter you have never heard before. Throughout, lead singer Matt Williams sings poetically about friendship, romance, and poor decisions.

It has been no easy feat for the seasoned band to record this album. Years of discussion around content and production details preceded the actual recording process. According to Matt Williams, “I think if we didn’t sign to Disintegration Records, this album would probably have never come out. With five people in the band, it’s incredibly difficult to agree on anything, let alone record an entire album.”

In February of 2012 Haunter went into the Prairie Recording Co. studio and recorded the bulk of their album in a manic two days with engineer Cam Loeppky. The album was complete after a few more days of vocal tracking and incorporating additions by Nathan’s Keri Latimer, Shannon Laliberte, and Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matyas (of Imaginary Cities) at Prairie Recording Co. and Argyle Studios. “It’s as if you were pregnant for five years and it’s finally out,” comments bassist Marie-France Hollier.

The album kicks off with “July, 2005.” Featuring the anthemic urgency and natural delivery that has become the backbone of Haunter’s sound, this song will have you bouncing around in no time. Virtually every song is full of guitar heroics that perfectly negotiate the tightrope between chaos and cliché. Two notable down-tempo songs, “Our War” (featuring Shannon Laliberte) and “Where I’m Calling From” (featuring Keri Latimer) bring a much-appreciated perspective to the album as a whole. Aside from these two songs, the energy rarely abates in this 11-song album.

It may have taken nearly five years to put out their debut album but the band is already anxious to get back in the studio. “Rivers & Rust is such a concise album, I would love to write another album which is completely different,” says Williams. In August, following the album’s release, Haunter has plans for a western Canadian tour in support of the album. The tour will include stops in Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and more.

- Stefan Braun
- Stylus Magazine

"Rivers & Rust review"


Haunter has been a "young band" for a while, and they still are, even five years into it. With the Rivers & rust LP the five piece follows up and EP and 7" that showcased the tight/sloppy "better than a garage band/nowhere near arena rock" aesthetic The Breeders have been perfecting since 1990. Opener 'July, 2005' is the tone-setter for the disc, delivering big guitars and bigger smiles, while 'Trans-Canada, Bring Us Home' would fit well on an episode of the defunct 90s TV show 'Going Coastal' alongside Jale, Thrush Hermit, and The Inbreds. It's that 90s innocence that works in the band's favour, as does incorporating such local stars as Nathan's Keri Latimer on 'Where I'm Calling From' and Imaginary Cities' Marti Sarbit on 'Assiniboine River Song.' A daring and diverse disc that will wind up on many year end lists.

- Nicholas Friesen - The Uniter

"Rusted Roots - Winnipeg’s Haunter talks influences and a new album"

On a rainy Victoria Day afternoon, the Uniter sat down at the Toad with Matt Williams and Jory Hasselmann, the two founding members of local indie rock five piece Haunter. The band is about to release its debut LP, the disturbingly good Rivers and Rust, through local label Disintegration Records with national distribution from Outside Music.

Recorded in short spurts over the last two winters on a minimal budget, Haunter’s record is somehow both lush and dense; packed with layers of moody yet hopeful guitars (courtesy of Williams, Hasselmann and Cannon Bros’ Cole Woods), Marie-France “Mef” Hollier’s intricate bass lines and the gripping drumming of Ryan Coates. The album features appearances from Nathan’s Keri Latimer and Imaginary Cities’ Dana “Rusty” Matyas & Marti Sarbit, with Disintegration’s co-founder Cam Loeppky (Weakerthans, Novillero) handling the engineering.

“We didn’t have any money so Cam said he’d give us half the labour for free because he’s part of the record label,” Williams, 25, says. “He definitely has an attitude that makes you trust him. He’s a friend of ours, but in the studio it’s a tiny bit less friendly. He doesn’t really put up with any bullshit and that’s how we could get the record done in such a short time.”

“Cam is very forward,” Hasselmann, 24, adds. “He won’t entertain too many stupid ideas. He lets you do what you want and he helps you do that in the best way possible, but he’ll show you the best way possible.

“He’s a fuckin’ wizard at the end of the day.”

The band’s previous output includes a 2009 7” and 2008 EP, both of which featured solid yet unrefined vocal work from Williams. If you put these on a playlist that flows into Rivers and Rust, the biggest change you’ll notice is that Williams vocals sound like a very different entity.

“The worst but best part for me was doing the vocal takes,” Williams says. “When we had recorded our EP and our 7” I maybe did four vocal takes on a song. No matter how good my vocal take would be, Cam always made me do each song ten times in a row. Recording the vocals took longer than recording all the instruments for the album.”

“Between now and four years ago, you’re older, you smoke way more cigarettes and your voice has gotten better,” Hasselmann adds.

It’s easy to hear from any Haunter song that the band wears its early influences proudly, from My Bloody Valentine to Pavement.

“That early stuff got us a reputation as a shoegaze band,” Williams says.

“I don’t think we live up to that,” Hasselmann interjects. “I don’t think we’re any genre except rock, but that’s a really boring label. Very rarely now do I go back and listen to a Pavement record. Not that we’re trying to break away with that but we don’t use that as a starting point anymore.”

Whatever the genre, the band has realistic ambitions for its recorded output.

“I think that what would make this record a success for me is that it’s accurate,” Hasselmann states. “There’s a small group of people in Winnipeg that have been really good to us and as long as that group of people likes this record and maybe it reminds them of a fond past, then, aside from touring and people outside the city hearing it, that’s what I want.”

- Nicholas Friesen - The Uniter

"Rockers Just Wanna Have Fun"

Rockers just wanna have fun

Local band aims to take something old and make it new


For Haunter, fun is the most important thing.
“I don’t think we’ve ever taken ourselves too seriously,” Jory Hasselmann, guitarist for the quartet, said over beer at Carlos and Murphy’s.
Consider vocalist-guitarist Matt Williams, who previously had a “solo thing” that brought a ludicrous new name to every show – Jacob Grace and the God-Shaped Hole, or Johnny Phantom and the Deviant Souls.
Or check out the humour on the band’s website, www.hauntermusic.com.
“Sarcasm is our big thing,” Williams explained.
But after a moment’s thought, he noted: “We won’t want to give the impression we’re sarcastic all the time.”
Mostly just at their shows, offered bassist Marie-France Hollier, otherwise known as Mef. Sarcasm really makes it into the band’s live performances, she said, which are characterized by “odd humour.”
Odd humour certainly found its way into the conversation at Carlos and Murphy’s, which drifted easily to subjects like whether it was a cow skull or bull skull hanging above the table.
Williams said the band tries to balance creative expression and simply having a good time.
“We’re all friends,” said Mef,
It was at a jam session with their former drummer that most of the band first played together, and everything immediately clicked. New drummer Ryan Coates joined the festivities in October.
Friendship has been integral to the evolution of the band’s sound. According to Mef, there’s been a lot more experimentation lately. Coates added that familiarity and connection with other band members naturally leads in that direction, through the process of learning how to play together.
The circumstances of recording their upcoming 7” also helped - it was cut in a friend’s basement studio.
“It’s got more energy – you can get more dynamic between people in that kind of confined space,” Coates said. “I’ve noticed an evolution in sound – it’s progressed.” That is, there’s now more layers, more intricacies. For that matter, the existing EP – recorded with the band’s former line-up – is no longer representative of its evolved sound.
“We like those songs, we still play them, they’re just…more up-tempo now,” Hasselmann explained.
That’s why the group is excited about both their upcoming 7” release and Jan. 16 gig at The Royal Albert, where they’ll be unveiling their “tighter” sound and a completely remodeled set list, complete with “b-sides.”
Live shows are the band’s laboratory for new songs.
While Haunter describes their sound to be “in the spirit” of ‘90s indie rock, there is a certain reluctance to clearly state a definitive list of influences from A to Z. The likes of Pavement and the Pixies came up, though, and the band said that audiences “seem to get” what they’re driving at.
That being said, according to Hasselmann, “I don’t think we’ve ever pushed anything.” The evolution of the band has happened naturally, and the band has tried to let it happen so.
“We’ve shifted from rock to….medium rock,” Hasselmann said.
“No, no – ANTHEM rock,” Mef corrected, grinning.
“Yeah,” laughed Hasselmann. “We just want to write the hit song of summer ’09.”
But seriously, Williams added, “We want to take something and make it new.”

And have a good time doing it. - Uniter

"Haunter EP Review"

Haunter EP Review
Kenton Smith

It's great to discover treasure in your own backyard. On the basis of their debut EP, Haunter is a new Winnipeg band that deserves props: Theirs is an alternately moody, catchy and, by the end, even stirring record - all in the space of a mere four tracks. After the drawl of the opener, "Slippery," things pick up with the bouncy "Turn In For Night," which, by the hand-clapping final stretch, becomes downright infectious. The band makes good use of atmospheric, sometimes almost ethereal guitar effects, especially in the seven-minute "The End Is Extremely Fucking Nigh." The slow, sadly pushing chords lead into a ripping, up-tempo climax that fades almost as quickly into a denouement that feels like teardrops. Perhaps the closest the band gets to an anthem rock sound is with the concluding "Wolves, NOW!," which culminates in a terrific, get-up-put-of-your-chair near-falsetto. While the entire EP is characterized by strong, tight playing, there remains a loose, ever-so-slightly rough-around-the-edges quality. No surprise for an EP recorded in a basement studio, but it epitomizes what was and still is great about the 90's indie rock sound - the respect for good musicianship but indifference to polished, commercial perfection. Throughout, the EP sounds like the product of a buncha guys (and one girl) who take pride in making quality music but still like to keep things informal. Can't wait to see 'em live. - Stylus Magazine

"Local Lookout"

The Manitoban

Local Lookout


Long gone are the days when artists could measure success in the quaint affirmation of a "gold" record. Indeed, In this post-Google age they must strive for "hits" of an entirely different sort. Ever since Jay-Z uttered the "Google me, bitch" riposte to haters a couple years back, the all-powerful search engine has become the arbiter of choice for determining one's cultural capital. Real gangstas roll at least 100 search-result pages deep. R&B artist Teyana Taylor released a song last year simply titled "Google Me," an absurd inter-animation of medium(s) and message(s) in which the actual artifact itself (the song) seemed like a mere formality and sounded like the distant echo of Marshall Mcluhan's head exploding in 4/4 time.
It might not be a stretch to suggest that eventually the only successful enterprises will be those which can be googled successfully. Indeed, near un-Googleable local prog-rockers "Ham" were pretty much fucked in this regard, and they recently broke up. So what chances does a local band whose name conjures endless pages of search results for a Pokémon character have?
"We have nothing to do with Pokémon," sighed Jory Hasselmann, lead guitarist of Haunter. "To Google us, you have to type 'Haunter' minus ‘Pokémon’ and, also, minus 'H.P. Lovecraft' because there's a book by him called, um, Haunter of the Dark."
Forget what google says, "Haunter" is a local noise rock band. One gets the impression talking to them that they really couldn't give a fuck about Google or "cultural capital," or "success," or anything like that. In fact, when pressed for a response about what interests DO compel them, bassist Marie-France Hollier offers a response of sublime and brutal brevity.
"I'd like to play louder," she said.
It's a lofty ambition for a band that names the Albert as their venue of choice because, in the words of Hasselmann, "it has an earplug vendor." Indeed, Haunter just, "really likes guitars," so much that they've been known to employ vibrators on guitar strings to coax maximum sonic carnage. The group recently tried to capture some of this noise on a two-song 7" vinyl just released to local independent music retailers.
"With the exception of one verse on the A-side, it's constant noise," said singer/rhythm guitarist Matt Williams of the release. "It's supposed to be straight noise with the vocal melodies coming in over top of, or underneath, it."
The record's initial effect is a sonic assault that catches your breath quicker than a night strangler. But there is also a distinct and, as Hollier describes, "Jarringly melodic" element that evokes '90s mess-pop like Pavement and Sonic Youth throughout. In sum, Haunter has a unique sound that doesn't find them many contemporaries in the local scene.
"Yeah, it's kind of hard to find bands that we really mesh well with for shows," Hasselmann said. "It seems like there's a shortage of normal rock bands in the city that aren't super trendy indie-pop."
"Or that 'Winnipeg Soul' sound," added Williams dismissively. "We're not saying it's bad. But you know that kind of upbeat, not necessarily dance-y, but poppy, soul inflected vocals? Rusty Matyas of the Waking Eyes has a great vocal in that vein. But yeah, we don't really fit well with bands like that."
Of course, the other side of the coin is that Haunter's hard-to-pin down sound actually liberates them somewhat.
"We always invited onto all sorts of different bills," Williams said. "Semi, hard pop, or even punk or hardcore sometimes and it's been working well."
"Yeah, a lot of people that like us tend to like a lot of different things, a lot of different types of music," Hollier added.
The band intend to tour Western Canada in June and has vague plans to record a full-length recording soon after. As for what direction Haunter might go, Hasselmann says it's anyone's guess.
"We all come from different musical backgrounds, but I think that makes us want to take it in a more focused way," he said. "Someone might want to be louder, someone else might want stronger songwriting or something. I think the combination of that will take us to where we're going, wherever that is."
In the short-term, at least, Haunter will be heading to The Albert for a show with Slattern on April 17, and then playing an in-store at Into the Music for International Record Store Day the next day. If you're looking for the band in the meantime you can try exploring that conceptual extension of the four dimensions of commonly experienced reality - the Internet. Instead of following Hasselmann's labyrinthine instructions, however, maybe you could just try Googling "loud."

by Damian Purdy
- The Manitoban

"Local Heroes EP Review"


Sure, Haunter's self-titled EP clocks in at just under 20 minutes, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Drawing influence from both modern indie pop and early '90s college rock, Haunter has come up with an impressive collection of tunes that is both pretty and gritty. Though relatively new to Winnipeg's music scene - the trio formed in 2007 - Haunter is a name you'll want to keep an ear out for.
— Jen Zoratti
- Uptown Magazine

"Lighthouse/Great Northern 7" Review"

Haunter is one of the few local bands who should actually be called ‘indie rock.’ They don’t play that slick, produced, disco-beat-driven trend-rock you hear pouring out of American Apparel, they play music that sounds like indie rock used to sound like: edgy and blown-out, with a dash of experimentalism. The two tracks on this 7”, Lighthouse/Great Northern and Sugar Melting, are seemingly simple songs, but Haunter do a good job of adorning them with catchy vocal melodies and guitars that go from chiming clarity to snarling, discordant squall at the drop of a hat. Fans of Sonic Youth should definitely check this out. My one complaint: it isn’t loud enough. I bet these guys kill live. Find out for yourself when they release the 7” tomorrow (Friday, Mar. 20) at The Royal Albert.

Curran Faris - Uniter


2013 - Rivers & Rust
2009 - Lighthouse/Great Northern 7"
2008 - Haunter EP



"Winnipeg's Haunter has figured it out: the idea that a song can be a complete celebration of the unique combination of people involved in it's making, together for the moment. I'm overjoyed to see such a young band making such distinctively wild and beautiful songs, so freely."
-Bry Webb, Singer/Guitarist for Toronto band Constantines

A band is built from the pieces left over when a group of people collides. Late nights, broken hearts and your favourite records. Back lanes, lost words and long drives. The music is the living, breathing body formed by picking up all those pieces and putting them together. It’s a bipolar relationship, crashing down and pulling itself up again. It takes a lot of hard work to keep any relationship alive, and you have to be there and ready for the painful times just as much as the perfect moments.

Haunter is no stranger to this relationship. Since the winter of 2007 in frozen, desolate downtown Winnipeg, they have been creating energetic, sincere music and playing it loud for everyone to hear. From anthems for the long nights to ballads made out to ghosts, Haunter has been putting together songs that mean something to them and those around them.

Haunter's line-up consists of: Matt Williams on lead vocals and guitar; Jory Hasselmann on guitar; MF-H on Bass, Ryan Coates on drums, and their newest member, guitarist Cole Woods. They disagree about a lot but agree to love each other. Some of them have known each other forever and others for just a few years.

They are grateful to have shared the stage with artists such as Attack In Black, Julie Doiron, Oxford Collapse, Women, Hey Rosetta! and the Handsome Furs. They also love and draw influence from Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, The Replacements, Bruce Springsteen, Rheostatics, The Tragically Hip, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies and Neil Young.

Haunter also has a western Canada tour under their belt, and two stops in Toronto for showcases at NxNE in 2009 and 2012. They’ve built a dedicated following in Winnipeg and hope to grow that following all over the world.

Through years of friendships and hard times, prairies and mountains, snow and sunshine, and everything else, Haunter is never going to give up. They are going to make it work.

Haunter will release their debut full-length album in July 2013 on Disintegration Records. Expect to hear from them soon.

Band Members